Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Scepter with Profile Figures

Date:
7th–8th century
Geography:
Guatemala, Mesoamerica
Culture:
Maya
Medium:
Flint
Dimensions:
H. 13 5/8 x W. 7 1/2 x D. 5/8 in. (34.6 x 19.1 x 1.6 cm)
Classification:
Stone-Sculpture
Credit Line:
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Purchase, Nelson A. Rockefeller Gift, 1967
Accession Number:
1978.412.195
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 358
Maya artists skillfully chipped flint, a fragile and challenging medium, into imaginative multifigure and geometric shapes. The worked flints are frequently found as offerings in Maya tombs. This eccentric flint depicts, in profile, two figures wearing headdresses. The larger of the two sits on a small short-backed stool and the smaller extends out from his back, as if being carried. Each silhouette displays the sloping forehead modification practiced by Maya peoples of the time and each has puckered lips. The undecorated base of this flint would have enabled it to be bound to a staff or it may have served as a handle allowing the object to function as a scepter, perhaps as an emblem of rulership. It has been suggested that the Maya believed flint to have been created when lightning struck the earth, thereby imbuing it with supernatural power. This flint may be a personification of such a power.
[Andre Emmerich Gallery, New York, until 1967]; The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1967–1978

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Art of Oceania, Africa, and the Americas from the Museum of Primitive Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1969, 631.

Easby, Elizabeth Kennedy, and John F. Scott. Before Cortez: Sculpture in Middle America. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1970, Fig. 201.

Schele, Linda, and Mary Ellen Miller. The Blood of Kings: Dynasty and Ritual in Maya Art. New York and Fort Worth: George Braziller, 1986, pp. 73, 83, pl. 26.



Related Objects

Column, Costumed Figure

Date: 8th–9th century Medium: Limestone Accession: 1978.412.88 On view in:Gallery 358

Relief with Enthroned Ruler

Artist: Chakalte' (Guatemalan or Mexican, active ca. A.D. 750–800) Date: late 8th century Medium: Limestone, paint Accession: 1979.206.1047 On view in:Gallery 358

Mirror-Bearer

Date: 6th century Medium: Wood, red hematite Accession: 1979.206.1063 On view in:Gallery 358

Vessel, Mythological Scene

Date: 7th–8th century Medium: Ceramic Accession: 1978.412.206 On view in:Gallery 358

Pendant with Seated Lord

Date: 7th–8th century Medium: Jadeite Accession: 2005.444.1 On view in:Gallery 358